Video games based on television shows tend to have a pretty low expectations, anticipation founded on hordes of poor video game adaptations of TV programs. Luckily, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a gem of a game in a field of absolute failed potential.
After it went gold last month, fans were quite excited to finally get their hands on the game that had faced delay after delay. Originally in the hands of the now closed THQ Studios and the most exciting game in their future line-up, Trey Parker and Matt Stone went through an arduous process of finding a new home for their game.
This is not South Park’s first venture into video games. The show has had previous titles across multiple systems for the better part of two decades. Showing that they also understand the gaming community, the show did a spoof on the ever popular World of Warcraft. The “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode was quickly swept up as a fan favorite. The show has used these fantasy inspired characters in other episodes more recently, poking fun at J.R.R. Martin and Black Friday.
Obsidian Studios had their work cut out for them in redrafting and finishing this game. The South Park library of characters is massive, and the amount of jokes that come up throughout the show over its nearly 20 year run could fill hundreds of hours of game-time. The drawback to the game sadly is it’s relatively short length for an RPG (role playing game).
The game is built as a Japanese Role Playing Game, designed around a turn based fighting system in which each side of the battle takes turns attacking, healing, and defending. Obsidian did what they do best and made a fantastic RPG. Holding true to nearly every RPG trope and standard, the game itself seems to be making fun of its own genre. The steady game play and the raucous hilarity that South Park is known for are what truly make this game shine.
The game does well drawing from the plethora of characters and jokes that the show has cemented in comedic history. This does mean there is one necessary warning for anyone looking to play this game; it is completely intended for South Park fans. Anyone offended by the show is guaranteed to be more offended by the video game, as the video game adaptation faces none of the cencorship of cable television. With that being said, any gamer and/or fan of the show will find it hard to stop playing at times. The game handles like an extended episode of the show. Except for the occasional inventory screen or message, it is hard to tell the difference between the show and the game. All the hard work in development truly paid off.
With the impressive list of what the game does well, there are a few let downs on the other side of things. The game’s turn-based system is handled perfectly, but there is a thrown in timing sensitive aspect added to the fighting that doesn’t always feel like it responds to your input accurately. While this doesn’t do much to take away from the spot-on performance of the game, it can get a little annoying in the heat of a big fight.
Not so much a performance issue but a design choice, female gamers will be disappointed to find out that they can’t fight through the epic battle for The Stick of Truth as a little girl alongside the cast of the show. While the world of Dungeons and Dragons is not one often traveled in the company of a fair lady, girl gamers are a real thing. There were also some memorable characters from the show’s history that were disappointingly left out. While the exclusion of some of these characters, such as Michael Jackson, may not be too surprising, many of these inclusions may have just been cut over the course of the game’s development. After changing hands so many times, different creative minds along the way may have felt differently about certain characters. The other theory is that some of these characters may be introduced through downloadable content later on.
Now that the game is out, the quest for The Stick of Truth comes calling, will you answer?